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Spoilers below for anyone who isn't caught up on The Flash Season 4.
The Thinker's grand Enlightenment scheme is coming together on The Flash, at least we think it is, and the dangerous villain gained yet another advantage when he recently sapped Ralph's Elongated Man powers from his body (as well as Caitlin's Killer Frost persona). From what fans have seen, The Thinker's meta-victims aren't the kind who have survived after losing their abilities, so does this mean that Hartley Sawyer's P.I. is gone forever? Here's what The Flash showrunner Todd Helbing said about it.
Ralph's... he's gone. Look, the journey that we wanted to take Barry on was very much [this]. He felt responsible for this guy and he brought him into the team. And even when he was in jail, the team was helping Ralph become a hero. And then Barry trains him and it has this impact on him that changes his sort of philosophy on how to stop villains moving forward --- particularly the Thinker. . . . Barry needed to have this big loss in order for him to fully come around to 'We can do this together, we can try to stop DeVoe together.'
Knowing oh so well how The Flash and the rest of the Arrow-verse work, with multiple Earths and resurrections and time travel, it would be incredibly naive to assume we'll never see Ralph Dibny again in some way. (More on that in a sec.) But it's still shocking, in a sense, that Todd Helbing is presenting Ralph's demise as more of a permanent fixture, as opposed to just teasing fans and telling us we'd have to wait and see. As much as I enjoyed Ralph's ego-driven derpiness and his physical zaniness, his death going unreversed would add some major stakes back into the narrative, where they've been largely missing for a while.
Also, if Ralph's death is what causes Barry to rise out of his funk and start acting like the Scarlet Speedster again, then so be it. Though this season was set up to be more light-hearted and free-flowing,post-Speed Force Barry hasn't been very successful at keeping either a stiff or an upwardly curved upper lip. And while mourning a friend's death isn't exactly the a laugh riot, Barry should at least be more of a courageous shit-stomper through the end of Season 4.
Of course, that could all change. When talking with TV Insider, Todd Helbing did drop a hint that DeVoe may use Ralph's visage as a way to strike at Barry, which would be a damned harsh move. And I mean, DeVoe could also make himself look like either one of Barry's dead parents, too. (Which would be an interesting way to bring back the premiere episode's line "Nora shouldn't be here.")
Indeed, Todd Helbing says that Ralph's powers are very important for DeVoe's sustainability, and his evildoings. But now that he finally has a body that won't put him in constant worry, he's apparently even less emotionally sound, which doesn't bode well for his fractured marriage to Marlize.
As you saw in episode 18, that was all part of DeVoe's plan. Ralph Dibny's body is the only one that can sustain his mind. So yeah, he needed that body and like he said, it had an ancillary benefit. He could fully return to form. So this whole thing that you saw with his wife Marlize, you know, he was using these drugs to keep her in love with him because he knew how strange that was gonna be with him inhabiting other bodies. Now the two of them are back, but as you noted, the emotional component of DeVoe has become less and less and less. That is really the big challenge on the DeVoe side... Marlize realizing that her husband is pretty much gone to her forever.
With Killer Frost potentially able to return in some way, Ralph is apparently not so lucky. There's always Season 5, right? The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out why the show's Mystery Girl is getting a bigger story than we thought. To see what new and returning shows are on the way in the near future, head to our summer premiere schedule.